According to my records, it has been about a month since I last blogged.
So, I figured the best thing to do would be to jump right in again with a controversial post. Of course. That makes total sense. Blame it on pregnancy brain.
Anyway, a recent article is making the rounds about research from the University of Texas stating that spanking harms children.
Before anyone starts throwing tomatoes at me, I'm not saying that parents who spank are abusive or anything like that. I'm NOT judging anyone else. I'm just stating why I choose not to spank my children.
Spanking vs. Yelling. (Note, by yelling, I'm not talking about insults or anything like that. Just speaking in a louder/sharper tone of voice). I've heard a lot of parents say that they spank their children so they won't yell at them so much. And yes, I agree, yelling is not good. But there is a fundamental difference between yelling and spanking. Spanking is a deliberate, conscious act. Yelling is almost never a deliberate action. Therefore, I find yelling much more forgivable. Everyone yells at times. Even Jesus got angry and overturned the money changers in the temple. I can forgive someone yelling at me, but hitting is much less forgivable (although of course we should forgive everyone).
Hitting is Not Okay. I don't want my children to think it's okay to hit someone or be hit by someone. Now obviously, most kids who were spanked do not grow up to be abusive people, nor do most kids who are spanked end up in an abusive relationship. BUT, I think kids who are not spanked have LESS likelihood of either of those situations. I have 3 daughters on the outside and one on the inside and while I can't speak for the unborn one's personality, the three born ones have very little chance of ever ending up in abusive relationship. They would not put up with it. They tend to speak up (very loudly) if they ever feel they are being treated unfairly. I think spanking *may* diminish a person's natural inclination to speak up for themselves and not put up with stuff like that. We tell our kids that hitting is wrong, so I never felt it was okay to say that hitting is wrong unless it's a person in authority doing it and then it's good. Or hitting is wrong unless you "deserve" it and then it is okay.
I Don't Want to Raise Sheeple. One of the most important traits a parent can instill in a child is the trait of being independent- not willing to follow the crowd - not a people pleaser - not prone to succumbing to peer pressure type of person. I once read something along the lines of "The "No" your 3-yo yells at you is the same "No" she's going to yell at her boyfriend when he's pressuring her to do something she feels uncomfortable with." I don't want to squelch my children's natural strong-wills or "No." They are going to need that strong-will as an adult. What we need to do is channel it into a strong-will to do the right thing, not squash it into perfect obedience. Sometimes there is a time for disobedience. I do think spanking may have a tendency to squelch that strong-will. While I expect my children to obey, I don't necessarily hold to the "first-time, no questions asked" obedience model. I'm okay if they ask questions. I also think that it may be possible that children who are spanked and not allowed to disagree with adults are more susceptible to abuse than children who are stronger willed and have been allowed to "speak their mind." Predators look for kids who aren't going to fight back and are going to "obey" them. And there are some people we REALLY don't want our kids to obey. I don't think children necessarily have the ability to distinguish between good obedience and bad obedience, which is why we focus more on doing the right thing, rather than obedience for the sake of obedience. Yes, I do expect my kids to obey, but I'm okay with explaining the "why" as well. Furthermore, I don't want my kids to do something they believe is wrong just to fit in. I want my kids to be the type to walk out of a party where everyone is drinking or dump their boyfriend because he is pressuring them for sex. I think in order for a kid to do that they need a strong-will, while the goal of spanking seems to be to make kids more compliant and to "lesson" their strong-will. So far, my kids seem to be fairly resistant to peer pressure and are more than happy to do their own thing without regard to what others are doing. I consider that to be a very good thing.
Fear of Punishment/Lying/Motivation. I have read that spanking doesn't teach kids to do what is right, it just teaches them not to get caught. I don't know if that is true or not, but it makes sense. We do have consequences in our house, but rarely punishments. Yes, there is a difference. We try to stick with logical/natural consequences. (ie. You can watch a show after cleaning up/doing chores. You can use the computer after you finish your schoolwork. If you fight with your sibling, you need to be separated. If you can't be good someplace, we need to leave. If you don't take care of your stuff, it gets broken or lost). For the most part, we've never really have problems with kids lying/sneaking. I think if there isn't that fear of punishment, there is less likely to be motivation for lying/sneaking/deceit. It's a theory that somewhat seems to hold true in my experience anyway.
Most People aren't Fine. A lot of people like to say things like "well, I was spanked and I'm fine.". What they mean by "fine" is that they aren't in jail and are reasonably productive members of society. But there is a lot more to being "fine" than to just not being in jail and being a productive member of society. Our society seems to have an almost epidemic of mental issues like depression and anxiety, relationship difficulties leading to divorces and unhealthy relationships. Is that all related to spanking? Of course not. Could spanking be a factor. I think it could (and that study seems to say that it is). I really don't know the answer to that. But my point is that from what I can see, many people actually aren't "fine."
Again, I'm not telling anyone what to do or telling anyone how to parent. I'm not judging anyone. I have many good friends that I really respect as parents who DO spank. I'm just trying to explains some of my thoughts of why I don't. We do have discipline in our house and we do expect our kids to do the right thing, but I believe there are more effective ways of teaching that than by spanking.